Marchmont Association
Bloomsbury London WC1

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Marchmont Community Garden by Staff

  Marchmont Community Garden


Marchmont Community Garden

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The award winning Marchmont Community Garden MCG) was officially opened on Saturday 3rd September 2011, with the unveiling of a plaque by The Right Honourable Frank Dobson, M.P., in the presence of invited guests and representatives of funders, partners, architects and contractors. The actor Rupert Everett, who lives nearby, planted an 'Acer Palmatum' (Japanese Maple) tree to mark the occasion. The garden celebrated its first anniversary with the award of 1st Prize for the 'Best Community Run Garden' in the Camden in Bloom 2012 and in both 2014 and 2016 it was awarded First Place for the 'Best Communal Garden'. The MCG is much appreciated by its many users, which include residents of all ages, shoppers, office workers and visitors to the area. The MCG is so busy on sunny days that two additional benches were installed in autumn 2012.

Background: In 2004/05 members of the Marchmont Association identified three major eyesores in the area, with a view to working in partnership with their respective land owners to eradicate them. The site considered to be in most need of improvement was the redundant 'gap' site at the north end of Foundling Court, off Marchmont Street - and after a failed attempt to develop the site for key-worker housing in 2009 (the site was too small to qualify for government grant), we set about creating a new, beautiful, biodiverse, fully accessible, public garden, to be owned and managed by the local community.

Architects Network were appointed to work with MA on designing a scheme for public consultation. We formed a project steering group with representatives from partner organisations, including Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, Brunswick TRA, Seymour House TRA, London Wildlife Trust and Camden's Parks & Housing departments. We secured a £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, which together with a contribution from Camden's Section 106 'pot' and a 'peppercorn' lease agreement on the site enabled the project to proceed. The relatively high cost of creating this garden was due to the need to raise the site to a level which made the garden fully accessible between Marchmont Street and Kenton Street. Public consultation events generated much interest from local people, whose ideas were fed into the detailed design of the garden. We appointed J Murphy & Sons Ltd to implement the works, which were completed in late August 2011, on time and on budget.

A new organisation - Marchmont Community Garden Partnership (MCGP) - was set up to manage and develop the garden, and maximise the involvement of local people. The MCG benefitted from the support of a community development worker, Tony Canning, who was seconded to work with us for the first two years by the London Wildlife Trust, with a specific brief to involve the community in gardening and to promote biodiversity on the site. Veolia Environmental Services generously agreed to provide free refuse collections for the first 7 years and Camden's Parks contractor is kindly locking and unlocking the site on a daily basis. We are grateful to Big Lottery Fund/Groundwork UK and Camden Council for their support and to our generous local sponsors and donors whose names can be seen on the chairs and bins in the garden.

Since the garden opened to the public, MCGP has organised regular events to involve the community, with the help of a Sustainablity Grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The first event in October 2011 saw 1000 bulbs planted by visitors of all ages in six hectic hours during the Bloomsbury Festival. This was followed in November 2011 by the planting of a 'Prunus Amanogawa' (Japanese Cherry) tree by the Mayor of Camden and three local choirs singing Carols under the lights of the Christmas tree in December. The first event to be staged in 2012 was the Open Day in April, when local people planted summer flower seeds, learnt about wildlife from experts and helped to build a bird box and a wood pile as habitat for stag beetles. Children were treated to free face painting, whilst the Northern Celts provided their rousing musical accompaniment and the versatile Basko entertained visitors with his special brand of circus skills, magic and balloon modelling. The biggest event of the year was the Marchmont Street Party in September, when the garden was filled with children and families for 3 Punch & Judy shows and free face painting. 50 window boxes, complete with soil and plants, were also given away to lucky event-goers as a means of greening the area. Once again, during the Bloomsbury Festival 2012, visitors planted a mass of spring bulbs, giving a glorious display in spring 2013 (pictured). In 2013, our main event was the 'Big' Plant Give-Away staged at the Marchmont Street Party, once again funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This was followed in the autumn by the planting of 3,000 spring bulbs and a ceramics workshop as part of the Bloombsbury Festival. Beautifully decorated ceramic tiles produced by participants in this workshop are proudly displayed in a mural on the garden side of the top planter. Our volunteers planted a further 2,000 bulbs in October and November 2014, providing a blaze of colour in the spring. Volunteering opportunities are announced on our notice board and via regular mailings to volunteer gardeners. Since we ceased receiving lottery funding we have elide on the generous contributions of supporters to maintain the high standard of horticulture enjoyed by garden users to date. We are grateful to Burger & Shake restaurant, Frank Harris estate agents, Vital Flowers and Ciao Bella restaurant for their generous response to our appeal in July 2015, and to Waitrose customers for voting for the garden in the Community Matters token scheme, all of which enabled us to fully compost the garden and introduce new plants in the summer. You can continue to support us by placing green tokens in our box in Waitrose each time you see our name in store. Individual donations will, of course, be gratefully received. On 30th August 2018, at a General Meeting of Members and volunteers, it was decided to replace the MCGP with the Friends of Marchmont Community Garden, reflecting the established support enjoyed by the garden in the community. Photos showing the development of the garden and recent events may be viewed via the link to our collection on flickr.com, below. If you would like to be involved in the MCG we would very much like to hear from you. Please e-mail us via the link in the 'Get Involved' box.

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Created On 04 November 2010

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